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Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 09:15 GMT
Boundary change plan challenged
Scotland will lose 13 Westminster MPs
A Labour MP has become the first Scottish member of parliament to say he will lodge an appeal against the plans to redraw the political map north of the border.

Dumfries MP Russell Brown was speaking after the Boundary Commission announced that it intends to cut the number of Westminster seats in Scotland by 13.

Mr Brown told BBC Scotland that he was deeply worried by the proposals, including the plans for his own constituency.

He said he intended to launch an objection within the official deadline of one month.

Dumfries MP Russell Brown
Russel Brown: Lodging appeal
The 72 elected members north of the border received letters on Tuesday informing them of boundary changes intended to reduce the number of Scottish representatives at the House of Commons.

The Boundary Commission review came in the wake of the Scotland Act, which set up devolution.

The report seeks to increase the number of constituents within each parliamentary seat from the current 55,000 to a quota of about 70,000 electors, the same as England and Wales.

The official report will be published on Thursday, but many MPs have already been speaking about the changes.

Biggest losers

The BBC has learned that the Boundary Commission is recommending a cut of 13 Westminster seats north of the border, reducing the number of Scottish MPs to 59.

It appears that officials have decided to maintain a separate constituency for the Western Isles (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar), even though its population falls short of the required threshold.

Orkney and Shetland are also likely to remain as one constituency.

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid's Hamilton North and Bellshill constituency will disappear, but he is expected to pick up one of the seats in the redrawn map of Lanarkshire.

One of the biggest losers in numerical terms is expected to be Glasgow, where the present total of 10 seats could be cut by three.

Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen are also all expected to lose seats.

Masssive area

Mr Brown's Dumfries constituency will form part of two new seats.

The town of Dumfries will be linked with Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire, replacing parts of the Tory-held Galloway and Upper Nithsdale seat.

The county of Dumfriesshire will move into a new seat of Peebles, Clydesdale and Annandale.

Mr Brown complained that this new seat covered a "massive area" which had "no geographical link, historic link or administrative link".

He said: "We will see a constituency that goes all the way from the border at Gretna as far as the Pentland Hills on the outskirts of Edinburgh, with a population of just over 65,000.

"The whole aspect of communities would be lost in a constituency of that size."

See also:

05 Feb 02 | Scotland
MPs learn of boundary changes
31 Jan 02 | Scotland
MP's independent run threat
29 Jun 01 | Scotland
Axe hangs over Scots MPs
08 Jun 01 | Scotland
Labour's Scots glory
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